Advice for Choosing the Right Data-Integration Solution

Loraine Lawson

There are a lot of data integration vendors out there-and I mean, a lot. So many, in fact, that choosing the right data-integration tool can be very confusing for organizations large and small, as technology consultant and blogger Julie Hunt points out in a recent post:

Enterprises probably are not spending enough time, money or resources on data integration (DI) software/services-part of the blame may fall to the broad range of options for DI solutions. The current data integration software/services market, while robust, is also highly fragmented and somewhat confusing. From Enterprise Data Warehousing (EDW) and Master Data Management (MDM) costing millions -- to data mashups, and dashboards based on Excel -- data integration software solutions span a broad spectrum of cost and complexity for all sizes of companies.

The good thing about such a diverse data-integration market is that there's something for everyone, as Rick Sherman, the Data Doghouse blogger and founder of Athena IT Solutions, noted. The downside, however, is that the variety can make choosing the right solution overwhelming.


When I wrote about the persistence of hand-coding Monday, I didn't even think that maybe one reason organizations continue to hand-code integration is that it's simply easier to just write your own code than evaluate all these solutions-particularly if you can't afford one of the big-name solutions.


And as it turns out, choosing the right tool is only one step in ensuring that tool pays off for you, Phil Watt warns on his BEye blog, "Simplifying Data Management," which, apparently, is a repost of a comment he made to a September blog post.


No matter. I think what he's got to say was worth amplifying in its own post, on its own blog. Now, to put all the cards on the table, Watt is the solutions director for Emunio, which is an IT service provider that helps-you guessed it-data integration. So, keep that in mind when you come to the part where he urges you to find an integration provider who can consult with you on the project.


Now, having said that, I would caution you to also keep in mind that he's speaking from experience:

Having worked on countless data integration projects over the last 12 years, my biggest source of frustration is when the customer has been set an unrealistic expectation about how easy it is to work with the technology. Yes, DI tools are certainly an order of magnitude easier than hand cranking code, but the architecture will not take care of itself, and the out of the box settings almost always last little more than a few months before progress falters - it may even halt until things are fixed.

His post offers advice and tips for avoiding this situation when buying a data integration tool, with the two big points being:

  • Find out about the business model of the vendor. Those who don't offer professional services may be satisfied with a quick sale-possibly leaving you in a lurch later.
  • Don't be fooled by the proof of concept-the vendors are skilled at making it look easy, but even the best IT staffers will experience a learning curve and you may run into problems when it comes time to scale up.


As both Hunt and Watt note, the data-integration market is big money, and research firms-depending on whose stats you read - estimate it could reach $2.7 to as much as $3.8 billion over the next two-three years. Do your homework and make sure whatever your organization spends is money well invested, not just for this project, but for future needs as well.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.


Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 19, 2010 2:17 PM Chris Chris  says:

Good article illustrating common sense pitfalls, thanks for this!!

Jan 21, 2010 8:52 PM David Inbar David Inbar  says:

Really good point about the daunting challenge of product evaluations when there are so many possibilities.     Here are a couple of suggestions for cutting the challenge down to size for quick, yet robust decisions:

-     Check if the vendor is willing to give you a free hands-on evaluation so that you can validate their claims for yourself

-     Check if the vendor has plenty of published case studies, including some that relate to your projects

-     Check if the vendor can validate its product's TCO vs. others with independent studies

Aug 17, 2012 3:13 PM Robert Mack Robert Mack  says:
I just wanted to inform your readers of a completely different data integration solution. This solution, data integration by design, is based upon a data modeling methodology enhancement that results in integrated data models. Integrated data models may be used to form integrated databases. This methodology is exquisitely eloquent in its simplicity. Please check it out @ http://www.strins.com Reply

Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.




Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.